Arsenal icon Ian Wrights comments show clubs transfer decisions are paying off

Mikel Arteta after Arsenal's victory against Leicester

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Mikel Arteta is currently enjoying life in the Arsenal hot seat after riding out a particularly tough spell earlier in the season. The Gunners were rock bottom of the Premier League following a nightmare start to the campaign.

But the Spaniard and his side have turned a corner since they were trounced 5-0 by Manchester City at the end of August.

Arsenal are currently on a nine-game unbeaten run that has seen them catapult themselves back into contention for a top-four spot in the race for Europe.

And there’s no doubt that the catalyst for Arsenal’s recent improvement has been Arteta’s diligent work in the transfer market.

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No club in England matched the £150million that Arsenal spent this summer.

Although Arteta spent big, he’s spent wisely on a host of young prospects who have the scope to develop into stars over the next few years.

And they’ve meshed well with the latest batch of Hale End graduates who have come through, such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe.

Arteta’s bright young starlets, both old and new, have been hailed by Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who told Youtube page UMM: “We need him (Saka), obviously Emille Smith Rowe coming through, Odegaard, Ben White you know, Sami Lakonga. We’ve got a lot of players now with a high ceiling. And if they can reach their potential, we’ve got some super players bro.”

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Wright’s comments are a further vindication of Arteta’s impressive work in the transfer market, but the former Gunners icon has also highlighted one signing who has perhaps slipped under the radar.

Albert Sambi Lokonga was one of Arteta’s first signings this summer, arriving from Anderlecht in a £16m deal.

Although he was primarily signed for the future, Lokonga has shown impressive mental fortitude to bounce back from a tough start to life in England to strike up a tidy partnership with Thomas Partey following Granit Xhaka’s recent injury.

Lokonga has featured in all but one of Arsenal’s 10 league games this season, with the 22-year-old sitting out that chastening defeat to City.

He and Partey combined to create the perfect double pivot to allow the likes of Saka and Smith-Rowe to tear forward against Leicester without fear of being caught with a sucker punch.

No player won more than the three ground duels that Lokonga prevailed in as he and Partey screened the Gunners’ new-look rearguard.

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Although the injury to Xhaka may have forced Arteta’s hand in utilising Lokonga more than he would have intended to in the early days of his Emirates career, it may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise if the pair’s promising early relationship can continue to flourish.

Arsenal may have cut through Leicester in the first half at the weekend with some delightfully incisive attacking play, they required a lot of grit and steel to see the game out in the second half, which is where Lokonga, Partey and the new recruits in defence such as Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale shone through.

Arsenal will need that solidarity and resolve just as much as they’ll require the genius of Saka and Smith-Rowe in the final third if they are to enjoy a fruitful campaign.

It’s still early days, but Arteta’s transfer work is beginning to look more astute with every passing game – even if some of his summer recruits fail to get the headlines.

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